So, I've received what was in many respects a perfectly normal spam message of the form;
Due to your recent publication [title of my paper] you are invited to contribute a chapter to a book on [topic of book] called [book title]. This will be published by [name of predatory publisher].
This book is being edited by Dr. Joe Smith.
Normally emails like that are immediately put in spam, but I happened to know that Dr. Joe Smith (not their real name) is actually an honorary professor. They are honorary professor at a university with generally high academic standards, so my first thought was that the predatory published was using their name without their consent. If I was being used in that way, I'd want to put a stop to it, so I forwarded the invitation to them, and asked if they were really editing a book on this topic. My email was not accusatory, I mentioned it looked a bit like spam and asked if they were editing this book. Unfortunately they actually are involved with this.
There is nothing above board about this request;
- The publisher is on Beall's list.
- The publisher charges authors disproportionate fees.
- The topic of the proposed book is a completely different field to my field. This would be clear to anyone who read the paper mentioned in the email. So I can only assume that Professor Joe Smith does not actually know anything about me, the invitation to collaborate was as random as any other spam request.
Having real professors send out spam requests is not good. It's bad for the reputation of their university, and to a lesser extent, the subject as a whole. For good reasons, publications of low quality and dubious academic merit cause damage.
What actions could be taken that would firstly encourage the professor to stop, and secondly protect the reputation of the university?